Every summer I would
visit my uncle Roddy and spend the most wonderful time on the Island of
Kerrera. The island was across the water from Oban.
Every morning after
breakfast I would help feed the pigs, chickens, and ducks. Uncle Roddy
also had two swans and sometimes we would have a few more guests like
the sheep and Highland cattle.
The Highland cow is a
very gentle animal, their coat is reddish brown and the hair hangs down
over their face. Underneath the hair two of the most beautiful big brown
eyes. There was one in particular I called Daisy. Every morning whan I
was feeding the pigs she would nudge her way past the other animals to
get to me. Daisy would then push her head under my arm and munch on my
jumper, she was very loving and full of mischief. Sometimes she would
move my bucket of oats from one place to another and if I dare bend over
she would bump me with her head.
Daisy would lick my face
all over and sometimes she would munch on my pigtails, in a way she was
just like a wee child and I loved her.
After I fed the animals I
would take a blanket and auntie Sheila would pack a wee lunch for
me which was scones (biscuits) only shaped like triangle and cheese, the
water I would get from the burn (stream). One hill in particular that I
liked, Uncle Roddy called it piper hill. Many years ago Clan pipers
would climb the hill and play especially before battle. This hill always
felt magical. I would spread my blanket down on the grass lay down and
close my eyes. Think of the pipers, and if you listen real hard you can
hear the pipers play.
Sometimes I would have
goose bumps all over when I heard them play.
In the evening I would
walk two miles to the next farm for milk and butter. The farmer and his
wife was very nice, they would always have nice fresh scones and home
made jam and a big glass of milk for me. The farmer would walk me half
way home and I would walk the rest of the way myself.
One night I pretended
that I was on a mission for the wee fairy queen, I was to bring back to
the castle the crown of Scotland. All Scottish and Irish people believe
in fairies and fairy rings. Fairy rings are small rings formed with
stones, they are found all over Scotland and Ireland.
On my way home I picked
up the small frogs and pretended they were guards helping to protect the
crown. When I arrived home uncle Roddy took the milk and butter and I
would go upstairs and take a bath and get ready for bed.
I remembered I still had
my wee frogs and it had turned cold outside I did not want to put them
outside so I figured that seeing hauntie Sheila had such a big bed I
would put them at the bottom of her bed to keep warm.
I had just gone to sleep
when I awoke to this terrible screem, it sounded like the Banshee. How
was I suposed to know hauntie Sheila was afraid of frogs. "Ro's-Muir
(Rosemary) come down stairs" I jumped out of bed and went down stairs.
There stood my hauntie Sheila, hair almost touching the ground and the
first thing thing that came to mind was (witch.) That is what hauntie
looked like all dressed up in her flannel night gown and her big coat
of hair hanging all over her face. If you looked real close you would
see this wee vain above her nose that seemed to beet when she was upset.
"What did you think you were doing lass that you thought you could put
those ugly wee beasties in my bed.'' Uncle Roddy was standing behind
her. He kept waving his arms from side to side as if trying to tell me
something but I did not know what.
"Well lass what do you
have to say for yourself" Oh my I thought "well hauntie Sheila" I said,
now you have to remember, that I am a Highlander, born and raised in
Scotland and we speak a wee bit different. "Well hauntie Sheila" said
I "I was walking home from the farm and those poor wee beasties were
sitting on the side of the path all cold and wet. I stopped and asked
them if they were alright, and the poor wee beasties asked if they could
jump inside my pocket to stay warm just for a wee while. So hauntie I
lifted them up and put them inside my big pocket and the truth of the
matter is I forgot all about them till after my bath. I thought that
seeing you have a great big bed that you would not mind if they shared
the bottom of the bed with you."
Hauntie Sheila just
looked at me, she was standing with her hands on her hips and her face
was real funny like she was trying to say something and it would not
come out. Maybe I should have told her that the wee frogs wanted to
sleep with her, it would make her feel a wee bit better,. So I said "oh
hauntie Sheila the wee frogs wanted to sleep with you because you are a
very kind and loving hauntie and I love you very much." Well that did
it, hauntie Sheila burst into a fit of laughing. I thought she was going
to die, she laughed so hard it was hard for her to catch her breath."Oh
gaolach" (darling) she said "what a wee story teller you you are,
that is the best I have heard in a long time Ro's-Muir (Rosemary).Go on
up to bed now and your uncle Roddy will make a wee bed by the fire for
them, off to bed with ye." I was feeling very lucky, I just knew deep
down in my heart the wee fairies had something to do with this. We all
know they take real good care of the animals and do not like for anyone
to harm them.
Uncle Roddy picked me up
and gave me a great big hug. I whispered in his ear "what were you
trying to tell me" uncle Roddy looked at me just smiled "well gaoloch
(darling) two of your wee frogs were down my back and I was trying to
get them out." Well now it was my turn , I laughed so hard tears ran
down my face. "Oh uncle Roddy you are my best uncle ever" and I gave him
a big kiss on the cheek. Uncle Roddy carried me upstairs and tucked me
into bed. When he went down stairs I jumped out of bed and ran over to
the window. Hauntie Sheila had made me a wee seat as she knew I loved to
look out at the stars at night. On this night I thought maybe I would be
lucky enough to see the wee fairy that made hauntie Sheila laugh and
A few days I would
be leaving the Island, and all the animals and of course the wee fairy
that made hauntie Sheila laugh. Leaving my hauntie and uncle was the
part I dreaded most. Next summer I would be back and that was going to
seem like forever.
© Rosemary MacLean Owens